Maybe it’s that his team didn’t get much TV exposure last year. Maybe it’s that his game is more substance than style. Either way, Washington State forward Brock Motum enters his senior season as one of the Pac–12’s best-kept secrets despite averaging 18 points and shooting almost 40 percent from behind the arc last year.
It’s true: Motum led the Pac–12 (a bad Pac–12, but still, the Pac–12) in scoring in 2011–2012, finishing with 18.1 points on 55.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3. He finished the season with an offensive rating of 109.0, the highest in the Pac–12 among players who used at least 28 percent of their team’s available possessions. His effective field-goal percentage (59.1) and true shooting percentage (62.6) both ranked in the top 70 nationally, and he added a 17.0 percent rebounding rate for good measure. (Motum didn’t do much on the offensive glass, and averaged just 6.5 rebounds per game, because he often found himself away from the low post on offense. When you’re 6-foot–10 and shoot 40 percent from 3, this kind of thing tends to happen.)
Anyway, point is, despite a lack of national attention -- which is understandable, given how thoroughly mediocre (if that) Washington State was -- Motum was awfully good in 2011–12. As Jeff writes above, he’s been awfully good in August, too. The Cougars are in the midst of their foreign exhibition trip to Motum’s homeland of Australia, where he has scored no fewer than 21 points in all five of the Cougars’ games, highlighted by a 41-point game in which Motum shot 13–of-19 from the field, 3-of–4 from 3, and 12-of–16 from the free-throw line. After which Motum introduced some of his teammates to “Surfers Paradise,” a beach outside Brisbane that appears to be, based on my quick Google Maps search, exactly what it says it is. (The modifying “Surfers” is too restrictive. Frankly, it just looks like paradise.)
From a stictly statistical standpoint -- discounting team success and other nefarious qualities typically insisted upon by media voters -- you could make a strong case that Motum deserved to be the 2011–12 Pac–12 player of the year. Thanks largely to the influx of talent at UCLA and Arizona, the 2012–13 Pac–12 awards might be an even harder nut to crack. But if he approximates any of this summer’s homegrown performance come winter, he’ll make his case again. This time, perhaps, we’ll be forced to notice.